Whiskey weather should be its own season, don’t you think? Because when the weather gets cooler, there’s nothing better than sipping a bourbon neat or an Old Fashioned cocktail to warm you from the inside out. A classic Old Fashioned is super simple: It’s just rye or bourbon, sugar, water, bitters, and a citrus twist. Of course, there have been all kinds of variations, including substituting the bourbon for mezcal (gasp!), but we find it’s especially good when it’s made with Elijah Craig Bourbon. Read on for where to find some of the best Old Fashioneds in NYC.Read More
Where to Get the Best Old Fashioned in NYC
This temple to grain in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn focuses on two things: pizza and whiskey (although there are a few salads and gin-based cocktails on the menu). Their spin on the Old Fashioned, the Black Walnut Old Fashioned, features bourbon from a private barrel of Elijah Craig that’s unique to their location, Nocino walnut liqueur, bitters, and sugar for a delightful walnutty taste. There’s a long whiskey list, including Elijah Craig 18 Year, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch #12, Elijah Craig Single Barrel 23 Year, and Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 Year, which are available in 1- or 2-ounce pours. Sourdough pizzas are named after various Brooklyn neighborhoods — the East Williamsburg has crimini mushrooms, fresh and aged mozzarella, olive oil, and truffle salt, while the Bay Ridge is topped with vodka sauce, fresh mozzarella, pecorino Romano, and fresh basil.
2. Cedar Local
The laidback and dimly lit bar in FiDi serves up quality cocktails and bites, all in a convenient Wall Street location. Any of their “New Money” or “Old Money” cocktails don’t disappoint; we recommend their custom Elijah Craig Old Fashioned, infused with fig and topped off with a pistachio macadamia nut rim. It’s the current favorite for bar-goers. And if you’re hungry, try the Crispy Flatbreads, made with mushrooms, robiola cheese (there’s also a gluten-free option with charred broccoli).
New York, NY 10002
In the hallowed original Milk & Honey space behind an unassuming metal door, Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross have kept their legendary reputations alive with the speakeasy style Attaboy. There’s no menu here, but the bartenders will tease out your likes and dislikes and craft something to your liking with the spirit of your choice. And rest assured, if you request an Old Fashioned it will probably be one of the best Old Fashioneds you’ve ever had.
Modeled after an American public house, Distilled NY comes from a Momofuku Noodle Bar vet, so the menu is on point, with dishes like Country Fried Duck & Waffles, a classic wedge salad, and roasted cauliflower with boquerones and pumpkin seeds. Thankfully, the food goes well with booze, and most of the cocktails are of the brown variety. Order the classic Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon Old Fashioned special this season — made with simple syrup, angostura bitters, poured over a large rock ice cube and garnished with a lemon and orange peel — to get an example of how deft the bartenders can be here.
5. Lucky Jack's
This large bar on the LES is one of those places where everyone feels welcome, thanks to the incredibly long bar, a pool table in the back, and a basement that hosts private parties and comedy shows during the week. Cocktails lean on brown spirits with drinks like a blackberry bourbon lemonade and an Old Fashioned that can be made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon.
6. Nomo SoHo
Inside this Soho hotel is Nomo Kitchen and the Library Bar, both of which serve top-notch cocktails. The Nomo Kitchen is bright and airy with a peaked glass ceiling, while the Library Bar is a book-filled cozy hideaway. The cocktail menu is full of classics like a Manhattan and a bramble, and although an Old Fashioned isn’t on the official menu, you can definitely request one. We also like the New York Sour, made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, simple syrup, an egg white, and fresh lemon juice, topped with an Oberon merlot float.
7. Smith & Mills
A night spent at Smith & Mills feels like a trip back in time, when the whiskey was strong and the bar was cozy and inviting. The old carriage house turned 1900s-era bar is cozy might be the ideal place to sidle up for a classic Old Fashioned and stay for awhile. The Old Fashioned at Smith & Mills is traditional and simple. It includes Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, a raw unrefined sugar cube, Angostura Bitters to soak the cube, a big lemon twist (peel side down). Muddled together and topped with bourbon, the cocktail is reminiscent of just how it was made back in the late 1800s.
8. Saxon + Parole
Named for a pair of prizewinning racehorses from the 1800s whose pictures hang on the wall, it seems highly appropriate to indulge in some whiskey-based drinks here. No one will bat an eye when you order an off-menu Old Fashioned made with Elijah Craig bourbon, but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the Old Fashioned’s cousin, the on-tap Manhattan served at Saxon + Parole. It’s made with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bourbon, Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, Jon’s leather bitters, and garnished with a filthy cocktail cherry. Ask for one of each for your own personal battle of two whiskey cocktail greats.
New York, NY 10009
A newer addition to the Lower East Side, Honeybee’s is likely like nothing you’ve experienced in Manhattan. A saloon? With plant-based barbecue? And a “golden cabinet” program with hard-to-find whiskeys? There’s no better place to stop in for an Old Fashioned and a bite of vegetarian “burnt brisket ends,” made with seitan and a mushroom blend. Owner Ravi Derossi and beverage director Sother Teague have many tricks up their sleeves when it comes to the brown spirits, too. The cocktail menu focuses mainly on rye and bourbon, which means an Old Fashioned is a must. But the Elijah Craig cocktails are equally intriguing, like the New Boots variation of the Old Fashioned — it’s made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, Amaro Ciocaro, cherry bark vanilla bitters, and Memphis BBQ bitters. A boozy Cherry Coke with a hint of smoke might be the best way to describe it.
10. Death & Company
Dark and moody yet comfortable, Death & Company is one of the top places in the city (the world?) to enjoy a sophisticated cocktail. The ever-changing menu at this influential bar includes everything from punches to spritzes to juleps, and more than enough whiskey-based cocktails to satisfy. The Space Cowboy is made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, Gamle Ode dill aquavit, Greek yogurt, peach, and lemon, and it’s no surprise that if you ask for an Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig, it will be absolutely perfect.
11. The NoMad Hotel
There’re many reasons to make it a night at NoMad Hotel any day of the year: The swanky interior decor, the nostalgia that comes with sitting inside what feels like a library-turned-bar, the incredible cocktails designed by Leo Robitschek. But there may not be a reason to head there during the holidays than during the NoMad Hotel Holiday Spectacular, a holiday pop-up bar happening every Sunday between November 24th and December 22nd. There, they’ll have a whole seasonal cocktail menu sure to warm you from the inside. Two Elijah Craig special cocktails to try? The “Not the Buttons” cocktail with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, Lustau Palo Cortado sherry, ginger, lemon, and brown butter; and the “Scrooged Sour” cocktail with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, lemon, mulled wine and egg white. Hard to be a Scrooge sipping on one of these cocktails, but if they don’t appeal to you, an Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig is always an option.
12. American Whiskey
You pretty much know what you’re getting into with a name like American Whiskey, and there aren’t many surprises here — wall-mounted bison and deer heads excluded. The wood-paneled interior is warm and cozy and the whiskey list is almost as long as the bar, with several tasting flights on offer. The cocktail menu consists of more creative drinks, like the cocktail special Strike Me Dead: an Old Fashioned variation with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, with vanilla, pink peppercorn syrup, pecan bitters (which take two months to make in house). Then again, you also won’t go wrong with a classic Old Fashioned, made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, angostura bitters, and simple syrup, chilled over big rock ice cube and garnished with a lemon and orange peel. Snacks like smoked wings and fried cheddar cheese curds are the perfect complement to the booze.
13. Park Hyatt New York
If you thought there was nowhere in Midtown Manhattan to sip on a superior Old Fashioned, the Living Room at the Park Hyatt New York will make you reconsider. It’s as if someone replicated the New York City apartment of your dreams and added a full cocktail bar to it: The chic lounge is inviting and an ideal place to savor an Old Fashioned, made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, before heading back out into the bustle of Midtown.
14. Jack and Fanny's
Jack and Fanny’s has a vague ’70s theme, with wood paneling, some comfy couches, cozy booths, and a big bocce ball court in the back. The homey feeling is perfect for settling in for a cold winter night with a a classic Old Fashioned, but there’s no reason not to spice it up. On the new fall and winter menu is the custom cocktail special the Alpina, a twist on the Old Fashioned perfect for the season. It’s made with Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, grilled lemon tincture, maple rosemary syrup, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur, and garnished with a toasted rosemary sprig. Order a round with a few flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie options, or the always-classic bar food, fried mozzarella sticks.
Owned by brothers who took over the restaurant from their father when it was a 24-hour diner, Sanfords is a favorite of those in the bar and restaurant industry due to its affordable bottle prices on everything from wine to whiskey. Sanfords boasts more than 300 bottles of single malts, bourbons, and cognacs. Food items include twists on classics like filet mignon spring rolls, Berkshire BBQ pulled pork sandwich, and a Gouda-stuffed duck burger topped with Cajun aioli.